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Legislative Assaults on State Courts – 2020

State legislators continued to introduce bills that would have weakened or politicized the role of state supreme courts across the nation.

Published: December 17, 2020
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Atit Phetmuangtong / EyeEm

In recent years, polit­ical attacks on the judi­ciary have been the norm.

Most prom­in­ently, Pres­id­ent Trump has contin­ued to lash out at judges for decisions he disagrees with, includ­ing the judges who have rejec­ted his attempts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion.

Receiv­ing less atten­tion, however, is how state legis­lat­ors and governors across the coun­try have used their power to try to weaken or politi­cize the role of state supreme courts, often in retali­ation for decisions they disagree with. Given the right­ward shift of the federal judi­ciary, state courts are more import­ant than ever for protect­ing funda­mental rights. But they are vulner­able.

To play their proper role in our demo­cracy, state courts must be — and appear to be — able to make unpop­u­lar decisions, includ­ing ruling against the governor and legis­lature when neces­sary. Governors and legis­lat­ors under­mine this import­ant func­tion when they make it harder for courts to rule against them or retali­ate against judges for decisions they dislike. And polit­ical offi­cials under­mine public confid­ence when they manip­u­late judi­cial selec­tion to get their partisan allies on courts.

Yet 2020 saw a continu­ation of state lawmakers’ efforts to politi­cize state courts. Because Covid-19 disrup­ted legis­lat­ive sessions across the coun­try, we do not know how these propos­als would have fared under normal circum­stances, but they provide a window into how legis­lat­ors may try to exert more power over the courts in the coming year.

In all, a Bren­nan Center review of bills intro­duced in state legis­latures shows that across the coun­try, bills that would give partisan offi­cials greater influ­ence over the courts; limit courts’ control over their dock­ets or resources; or allow the legis­lature to over­rule or refuse to enforce judi­cial decisions were intro­duced in at least 17 states.* (This compares to at least 25 states in 2019 and at least 18 states in 2018.)

Of the bills that advanced, two stand out. In Pennsylvania, legis­lat­ors set up a poten­tially major change to the state’s appel­late courts in 2021, advan­cing a proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment that would require judges, who currently run statewide, to run in districts drawn by the legis­lature. If passed again this year and approved by voters, this change would empower the legis­lature to oust judges they dislike by draw­ing district lines that under­mine their chances of reelec­tion. In Missouri, mean­while, voters narrowly approved a legis­lat­ively proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment that limits courts’ abil­ity to rule on redis­trict­ing matters.

*These bills were iden­ti­fied by the Bren­nan Center through CQ Fisc­al­Note and CQ Stat­eT­rack (provided by the Piper Fund), as well as media reports. Unlike previ­ous years, the Bren­nan Center did not use the National Center for State Courts’ Gavel to Gavel data­base for identi­fy­ing bills because it was unavail­able.

In 2020, legis­lat­ors in at least 17 states considered at least 42 bills to dimin­ish the role or inde­pend­ence of state courts.

  • Eleven bills in 6 states would have injec­ted more polit­ics into how judges are selec­ted.
  • Fifteen bills in 10 states would have put pres­sure or restric­tions on judi­cial decision-making or taken away courts’ author­ity to manage their own rules or resources.
  • Eight bills in 6 states would have allowed state legis­latures to refuse to enforce court decisions or laws they disagree with.
  • Two bills in 2 states would have insu­lated the legis­lature from judi­cial over­sight by ensur­ing more favor­able judges hear chal­lenges to state law.
  • Four bills in 1 state would have subjec­ted judges to more frequent elec­tions and polit­ical pres­sure.
  • Two bills in 1 state would have led to more guns in court­houses, even if courts them­selves wanted to prohibit weapons.

One of these bills was enacted into law. An addi­tional ten bills advanced in signi­fic­ant ways, either passing favor­ably out of a commit­tee or subcom­mit­tee, receiv­ing a hear­ing, or passing through one house of the legis­lature. Legis­lat­ors in Pennsylvania also advanced one meas­ure such that it could go before voters for approval as early as May 2021.

The follow­ing is an over­view of the bills intro­duced at the state level in 2020, broken down by how they might weaken the inde­pend­ence or power of the judi­ciary.

Comprom­ising Judi­cial Selec­tion

Six states considered bills that would have changed how judges are selec­ted, making the process more partisan or polit­ical. States use several differ­ent meth­ods to select judges, includ­ing contested elec­tions and “merit selec­tion” systems, where candid­ates are vetted by an inde­pend­ent nomin­at­ing commis­sion and appoin­ted by the governor. New bills would have weakened exist­ing safe­guards that insu­late judges from outside pres­sure, includ­ing subject­ing judges to new elec­tions, weak­en­ing the role of inde­pend­ent nomin­at­ing commis­sions, and giving partisan legis­lat­ors an outsized role in choos­ing judges.

Laws that create a partisan advant­age in judi­cial selec­tion:

  • In Pennsylvania, the Repub­lican-controlled legis­lature approved a proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (HB 196/SB 1231) that would have voters elect appel­late court judges by district rather than statewide. While district-based judi­cial elec­tions are not inher­ently prob­lem­atic, the Pennsylvania meas­ure would open the door to judi­cial gerry­man­der­ing and appears targeted at elim­in­at­ing the state supreme court’s current Demo­cratic major­ity. HB 196 was first intro­duced by a Repub­lican lawmaker in 2017 after Demo­crats gained a 5–2 major­ity on Pennsylvani­a’s supreme court. The proposal imposes few limits on the legis­lature’s abil­ity to draw (or redraw) judi­cial districts, and it would require sitting justices to run for reelec­tion in one of the new districts created by the legis­lature when his or her term ends in a contested elec­tion, as opposed to a reten­tion elec­tion. It also gives lawmakers control over the timeline for moving to district-based elec­tions, mean­ing the legis­lature could time the state’s move to distric­ted elec­tions to target indi­vidual judges they disfa­vor. If approved by the legis­lature again in 2021, the amend­ment could go before voters as early as May 2021.
  • In Wash­ing­ton, a proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (SJR 8215) simil­arly would have had voters choose supreme court justices by district rather than statewide in primary elec­tions. The amend­ment, sponsored only by Repub­lican state senat­ors, would have allowed the legis­lature to draw and redraw state supreme court districts and required the governor to fill interim vacan­cies with a justice from the judi­cial district where the vacancy occurred. Repub­lican lawmakers have regu­larly targeted the Wash­ing­ton Supreme Court in recent years with propos­als to shrink it and allow lawmakers to over­ride its decisions.

Laws that would give partisan actors more control over the selec­tion process:

  • In Oklahoma, a bill (SB 1861) would have removed all six state bar-appoin­ted attor­ney members on the state’s nomin­at­ing commis­sion, repla­cing them with six attor­ney members appoin­ted by the Repub­lican House speaker and Senate pres­id­ent. In recent years, Repub­lican legis­lat­ors have clashed with Oklaho­ma’s supreme court on a range of decisions, from the stay­ing of execu­tions to the strik­ing down of restric­tions on abor­tion.
  • In Utah, a bill (SB 172) would have allowed the governor to appoint all seven members of the state’s appel­late and trial court nomin­at­ing commis­sions without restric­tion and removed the require­ment that no more than four members be from the same polit­ical party. Currently, the governor appoints six of the seven commis­sion­ers, two of whom must be chosen from a list of nomin­ees from the state bar, and the state’s chief justice chooses a seventh, nonvot­ing member. SB 172 was approved by the Utah Senate Judi­ciary, Law Enforce­ment, and Crim­inal Justice Commit­tee.

Laws that would weaken or elim­in­ate inde­pend­ent judi­cial nomin­at­ing commis­sions:

  • In Alaska, a bill (SB 200) would have prohib­ited the state’s judi­cial coun­cil from submit­ting a judi­cial candid­ate to the governor for consid­er­a­tion unless it determ­ined that the candid­ate would adhere to the legis­lature’s preferred meth­ods of legal inter­pret­a­tion, “strict consti­tu­tional inter­pret­a­tion of stat­utes and regu­la­tions and adher­ing to legis­lat­ive intent.” The bill would have also required judi­cial nomin­ees, who are currently vetted by the judi­cial coun­cil and appoin­ted by the governor, to be confirmed by a major­ity of the members of the legis­lature in joint session.
  • In Missouri, a proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (SJR 39) would have required the state’s nonpar­tisan judi­cial commis­sion to provide the governor with a list of “all qual­i­fied nomin­ees” to choose from for appoint­ment. Currently, the commis­sion has the author­ity to narrow the list to the candid­ates it considers most qual­i­fied and to pass along a list of as few as three candid­ates. This bill follows accus­a­tions by conser­vat­ive lawmakers that Missour­i’s supreme court has gone “rogue“ and that the state’s nomin­at­ing commis­sion is “too liberal.” SJR 39 received a hear­ing and was approved by the Missouri Senate Govern­ment Reform Commit­tee. Another proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (SJR 51) and bill (SB 683) would have gone even further by elim­in­at­ing the state’s nonpar­tisan nomin­at­ing commis­sion and requir­ing all circuit and asso­ci­ate circuit judges to be elec­ted. SJR 51 and SB 683 received a hear­ing in the Missouri Senate Local Govern­ment and Elec­tions Commit­tee.
  • In Oklahoma, a proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (SJR 39) would have required the state’s judi­cial nomin­at­ing commis­sion to submit a list of all applic­ants to the governor. It would have also required the governor’s nominee to be confirmed by the state Senate. Currently, the commis­sion recom­mends three candid­ates to the governor for the governor to choose from for appoint­ment. Another proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (HJR 1033) would have elim­in­ated the state’s judi­cial nomin­at­ing commis­sion, giving the governor the power to directly appoint appel­late court judges, subject to confirm­a­tion by a major­ity vote of the major­ity and minor­ity lead­ers of the legis­lature and the lieu­ten­ant governor. It would have also given the legis­lature the power to change or create an altern­at­ive process for confirm­ing judges by passing a law. Another bill (SB 1626) would have given the governor the power to directly appoint district court and inter­me­di­ate appel­late court judges, subject to the state Senate’s advice and consent, without vetting by the state’s judi­cial nomin­at­ing commis­sion. A proposal similar to SB 1626 was intro­duced in Kansas in 2019.
  • In Utah, a proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (SJR 8) would have replaced the state’s judi­cial nomin­at­ing commis­sion with nonpar­tisan elec­tions. Utah’s judi­cial nomin­at­ing commis­sion has been accused by conser­vat­ive lawmakers of pick­ing judges who are “too liberal.”

Inter­fer­ing with Judi­cial Decision-Making

Nine states considered legis­la­tion that would have put polit­ical, finan­cial, or other pres­sures or restric­tions on judi­cial decision-making. Judges must be able to decide cases without fear of retri­bu­tion, yet some of these propos­als would have increased the like­li­hood of a judge facing back­lash for unpop­u­lar rulings. Other propos­als would have empowered politi­cians to alter court proced­ures to restrict judi­cial autonomy.

  • In Alabama, legis­lat­ors intro­duced a bill (HB 275/SB 200) to speed up death sentences by limit­ing judi­cial review of capital cases. Initially, the bill would have vested exclus­ive appel­late juris­dic­tion over death penalty cases in the Alabama Court of Crim­inal Appeals, elim­in­at­ing the Alabama Supreme Court’s discre­tion to review such cases. The Alabama Senate and House Judi­ciary Commit­tees, however, amended the bill to achieve the same goal by elim­in­at­ing direct appeals of death penalty cases to the Alabama Court of Crim­inal Appeals, giving the Alabama Supreme Court exclus­ive appel­late juris­dic­tion over capital cases.
  • In Color­ado, a bill (HB 20–1033) would have prohib­ited state courts from taking any “action” against any person or reli­gious organ­iz­a­tion for discrim­in­at­ing against an indi­vidual or group on the basis of sexual orient­a­tion or gender iden­tity for reli­gious reas­ons. HB 20–1033 is similar to other “reli­gious free­dom” bills intro­duced in Color­ado and Texas in recent years.
  • In Iowa, a bill (SSB 3181) would have vested the Iowa Supreme Court with exclus­ive author­ity to rule on the consti­tu­tion­al­ity of laws passed by the legis­lature. Among other things, the bill would have also prohib­ited the state supreme court from find­ing a state law uncon­sti­tu­tional unless a super­ma­jor­ity of justices (5 of 7) agreed, and the court’s ruling would have had no effect for one year, during which time the legis­lature could “compel attend­ance of specified justices to a public hear­ing to discuss and debate the justi­fic­a­tion for the decision” with legis­lat­ors. The bill would have also allowed the legis­lature to over­ride, with two-thirds major­ity in both cham­bers, any court decision inval­id­at­ing a state law. Iowa’s supreme court has faced contin­ued attacks from conser­vat­ive legis­lat­ors since its 2009 decision find­ing a right to marriage equal­ity under the state’s consti­tu­tion.
  • In Kansas, a bill (HB 2591) would have allowed a sitting member of the state legis­lature to remain in a courtroom that has been closed by a district judge or district magis­trate judge for “any reason other than a reason specified in stat­ute.” The Kansas Bar Asso­ci­ation noted that the bill “impinges on a judge’s author­ity over his courtroom.”
  • In New Jersey, a bill (A 3770) would have prohib­ited courts from enfor­cing foreign law if its enforce­ment would viol­ate consti­tu­tional rights or conflict with federal or state law. Similar bills were intro­duced in South Caro­lina (H 4767) and West Virginia (HB 4109). These meas­ures are part of a national trend of “anti-Sharia laws” meant to stir up fears of Islam and Sharia law. Since 2010, these bills have been considered in at least 43 states and enacted in 14 states, accord­ing to the South­ern Poverty Law Center.
  • In Missouri, voters approved a consti­tu­tional amend­ment proposed by the legis­lature (SJR 38) that signi­fic­antly limits resid­ents’ abil­ity to chal­lenge legis­lat­ive redis­trict­ing maps in court; requires chal­lenges to legis­lat­ive redis­trict­ing maps to be brought in Cole County only; and limits how much a court can modify a map to bring it into compli­ance with the law. The Missouri Consti­tu­tion previ­ously did not place any restric­tions on the right of resid­ents to chal­lenge maps in court, and any such chal­lenge could be filed in a court where the resid­ent lives.
  • In Missouri, a bill (HB 1937/SB 899) would have repealed rules promul­gated by Missour­i’s supreme court last year to reform pretrial release and bail in the state. HB 1937 received a public hear­ing and was voted out of the Missouri House Judi­ciary Commit­tee and Rules – Admin­is­trat­ive Over­sight Commit­tee.
  • In West Virginia, a proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (HJR 101) would have allowed the legis­lature to approve or disap­prove of rules promul­gated by the state’s supreme court and circuit courts. Similar propos­als were intro­duced in Arizona and Arkan­sas in recent years. The Arkan­sas proposal, which would have capped lawsuit damages and shif­ted court rule-making author­ity from the state’s supreme court to the legis­lature, was certi­fied to go before voters in Novem­ber 2018, but the state supreme court ulti­mately struck it down for uncon­sti­tu­tion­ally combin­ing unre­lated propos­als in one amend­ment.
  • In West Virginia, a proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (HJR 109) would have elim­in­ated the author­ity of state courts to stay or enjoin impeach­ment proceed­ings or impeach­ment trials in the legis­lature. It would have also exemp­ted from judi­cial review or judi­cial inter­pret­a­tion any rule of prac­tice or proced­ure adop­ted by the legis­lature for a trial on articles of impeach­ment. A similar proposed amend­ment (SJR 7) would have provided that state courts had no author­ity to inter­fere with legis­lat­ive proceed­ings. Another proposed amend­ment (SJR 1) would have elim­in­ated the author­ity of state courts to “inter­cede or inter­fere” with impeach­ment proceed­ings and would have also exemp­ted from judi­cial review any judg­ment rendered by the state Senate after an impeach­ment trial. Last year, the state Senate passed a similar proposal; however, it was ulti­mately rejec­ted by the state House. The Senate Judi­ciary Commit­tee approved of SJR 7 and added an explan­a­tion that the meas­ure’s purpose was to nullify the state supreme court’s 2018 decision halt­ing the legis­lature’s impeach­ment of three justices over their alleged abuse of state funds as a viol­a­tion of the state consti­tu­tion’s separ­a­tion of powers clause.
  • In Wash­ing­ton, a bill (SB 6353) would have required the state’s Office of Finan­cial Manage­ment to issue a press release with a fiscal note “estim­at­ing the impact of Wash­ing­ton state supreme court decisions that increase or decrease or tend to increase or decrease state and local govern­ment reven­ues or expendit­ures.” A similar bill was intro­duced in 2018. Wash­ing­ton’s legis­lature has regu­larly clashed with the state’s supreme court since the court issued a 2012 decision hold­ing the state was uncon­sti­tu­tion­ally under­fund­ing its K–12 public school system. 

Shield the Legis­lature from Court Rulings

Propos­als in six states would have allowed states to refuse to enforce federal or state laws or court decisions they disagree with.

  • In Alabama, a bill (HB 123) would have deemed void any federal or state laws, court decisions, and/or exec­ut­ive orders imple­ment­ing or enfor­cing federal red flag laws or extreme risk protec­tion orders that tempor­ar­ily restrict access to fire­arms for indi­vidu­als determ­ined by a court to be a threat to them­selves or others.
  • In Indi­ana, a bill (HB 1089) would have crim­in­al­ized abor­tion and deemed any court decision strik­ing the law down as “nonau­thor­it­at­ive, void, and of no force.” A similar bill in Missouri (HB 1799) would like­wise have crim­in­al­ized abor­tion and required state courts to “affirm­at­ively enforce” the state’s due process clause, which specifies that no person must be deprived of life, liberty, or prop­erty without due process of law. Another bill in Missouri (HB 2285) would have deemed any court decision enjoin­ing the state from “protect­ing inno­cent human life from the moment of concep­tion” as “nonau­thor­it­at­ive, void, and of no force.” Similar bills that would have prohib­ited state and local offi­cials from enfor­cing court orders recog­niz­ing marriage for same-sex couples were intro­duced in Tennessee in previ­ous years.
  • A bill in Missis­sippi (SB 2238) would have prohib­ited state courts from enfor­cing all federal “acts, laws, orders, rules, and regu­la­tions, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms” as guar­an­teed by the Second Amend­ment. A similar bill in Oklahoma (HB 2901) would have prohib­ited law enforce­ment officers from obey­ing or enfor­cing, among other things, any federal, state, or local court orders order­ing the confis­ca­tion of fire­arms, fire­arm accessor­ies, or ammuni­tion from “law-abid­ing citizens” of the state. HB 2091, as amended, was voted out of the Oklahoma House Public Safety Commit­tee.
  • Bills in Oklahoma (SB 1477) and South Dakota (HB 1261) would have estab­lished joint legis­lat­ive commit­tees to determ­ine the consti­tu­tion­al­ity of federal actions. If state legis­lat­ors decided a federal action was uncon­sti­tu­tional, courts in the state would have been prohib­ited from enfor­cing that action. The bills would have also allowed indi­vidu­als to seek a declar­at­ory judg­ment as to the consti­tu­tion­al­ity of federal actions and required courts in the state consid­er­ing such claims to “rely on the plain mean­ing” of the text of the U.S. Consti­tu­tion as under­stood by its framers.

Judge-Shop­ping for Partisan Advant­age

In addi­tion to pick­ing who reaches the bench in the first instance, legis­lat­ors can gain an advant­age in the courts by hand­pick­ing the judges who will or will not hear certain cases in their respect­ive juris­dic­tions. They can do this by redraw­ing judi­cial districts, chan­ging court juris­dic­tion, or by alter­ing meth­ods for assign­ing cases.

  • In Flor­ida, a bill (SB 1740) would have required the clerk of the Flor­ida Supreme Court to use a blind, random selec­tion process to determ­ine the venue for lawsuits chal­len­ging the consti­tu­tion­al­ity of a stat­ute or legis­lat­ive action. Currently, such chal­lenges are filed in Leon County (the state capital), and a number of state laws, includ­ing a law making it harder for local juris­dic­tions to enact gun control, have been over­turned in recent years by Leon County circuit judges. Similar bills were intro­duced in Flor­ida and Kentucky last year. 
  • In Utah, a bill (SJR 5) would have amended the state’s rules of civil proced­ure to allow no-cause disqual­i­fic­a­tion of one judge in every civil case. SJR5 was repor­ted out of the Utah Senate Judi­ciary, Law Enforce­ment, and Crim­inal Justice Commit­tee with an amend­ment that would have only permit­ted no-cause disqual­i­fic­a­tion in counties with seven or more district court judges. While no-cause disqual­i­fic­a­tion, which at least 17 other states allow, can strengthen recusal prac­tices by encour­aging litig­ants to file merit­ori­ous recusal motions without fear of reprisal, SJR 5 may have been intro­duced in response to a judge who chal­lenged the spon­sor’s law firm “on 60 differ­ent cases, cutting by more than half the attor­ney fees awar­ded it and also confron­ted it over due process issues.”

Reduce or Control Court Resources

One state would have given the legis­lature increased control over judges’ compens­a­tion. When legis­lat­ors threaten to cut judi­cial fund­ing unless judges adhere to the legis­lature’s wishes, it viol­ates the separ­a­tion of powers prin­ciples that our demo­cracy relies on. And actual losses of fund­ing or resources can force courts to close or lead to case back­logs, making it harder for indi­vidu­als to access justice.

  • In Oklahoma, a bill (HB 3562/SB 1220) would have required the legis­lature to pass a law approv­ing or amend­ing the state Board on Judi­cial Compens­a­tion’s recom­mend­a­tion for judi­cial salar­ies before the new salary could take effect. Under current law, the board makes recom­mend­a­tions for judi­cial salar­ies every two years, and the legis­lature can either approve the board’s recom­mend­a­tion by taking no action, or it can pass a law amend­ing or reject­ing the board’s recom­mend­a­tion. HB 3562 passed the Senate but was voted down in the House.

Alter­ing Judi­cial Term Lengths and Limits

One state would have altered judi­cial term lengths in ways that would have made state supreme court justices and lower court judges more depend­ent on voters or the legis­lature for their job secur­ity. The shorter a judge’s term length, the greater the pres­sure that judge may feel to rule with elect­oral or polit­ical consid­er­a­tions in mind. Term limits can be desir­able in many instances, but judges must be allowed suffi­cient time to serve and should not be removed from the bench for partisan reas­ons.

  • In New Jersey, a proposed consti­tu­tional amend­ment (ACR 37) would have reduced the initial term of appoin­ted state supreme court justices from seven to five years and required sitting justices wish­ing to serve until the state’s mandat­ory retire­ment age of 70 to be reappoin­ted by the governor, subject to the state Senate’s approval, and approved by voters. Under current law, the governor may reappoint a sitting justice for tenure (i.e., a term last­ing until the justice reaches the state’s mandat­ory retire­ment age), with the state Senate’s advice and consent.
  • Another proposed amend­ment (SCR 64) in New Jersey would have reduced the initial terms of appoin­ted justices to from seven to four years and abol­ished tenure for state supreme court justices. Under the amend­ment, any justice wish­ing to serve until the state’s mandat­ory retire­ment age, includ­ing current justices on the court who have attained tenure, would be required to stand in a reten­tion elec­tion every four years. The spon­sor’s state­ment for SCR 64 refers to New Jersey’s supreme court as having a “decades-old repu­ta­tion for being a very activ­ist court” and notes the court’s decisions on educa­tion policy and afford­able hous­ing as examples of such judi­cial activ­ism.
  • Another proposed amend­ment (SCR 47) and bill (S 1064) in New Jersey would have given the state Senate the power to directly reappoint justices and certain lower court judges to serve past the state’s mandat­ory retire­ment age for addi­tional two-year terms, elim­in­at­ing the governor’s abil­ity to nomin­ate new judi­cial candid­ates. New Jersey’s Work­ing Famil­ies Party criti­cized SCR 47 and S 1064 as meas­ures that would give justices and judges “a strong incent­ive to decide contro­ver­sial cases in ways that cater to the senat­ors who will decide whether they can remain on the bench.”

Allow­ing Fire­arms in Court

Courts continue to be pulled into broader efforts to empower gun owners to carry weapons in public spaces.

  • In Oklahoma, a bill (HB 2796) would have allowed members of the legis­lature, certain county or muni­cipal peace officers, and persons with valid hand­gun licenses to carry concealed fire­arms in state build­ings or offices, includ­ing court­houses. Another bill in Oklahoma (HB 3422) was amended to allow members of the legis­lature and certain local peace officers to carry concealed fire­arms in state build­ings or offices, includ­ing court­houses. HB 3422, as amended, was approved by the Oklahoma House Public Safety Commit­tee.